Thousands of Portland Protesters Surround Police Bureau After Trump Crackdown

Thousands of protesters surrounded the Multnomah County Justice Center, which houses the Portland Police Bureau's headquarters, on Monday night as demonstrations in the city continued despite a crackdown by federal authorities.

In recent days, federal officers have dispersed crowds outside the federal courthouse in Portland, located near the Justice Center, by firing tear gas and less-lethal munitions. Despite that, a bigger crowd came out to protest on Monday night.

Mike Baker, a correspondent for The New York Times, estimated the crowd outside the Justice Center had numbered around 2,000. Baker posted a video on Twitter saying the crowd stretched across a whole block and a group of moms dressed in yellow could be seen at the front.

Mothers against police brutality have been attending protests in Portland since the weekend after Bev Barnum, a Portland woman, set up a Facebook event called "Wall of Moms" calling for moms to come out to help protect protesters from federal agents.

After protesters made their way to the U.S. Courthouse in the early hours of Tuesday, federal troops once again fired tear gas, flash bangs and impact munitions, according to reports on social media.

Portland Police urged people to avoid the area after confirming federal authorities had deployed CS gas. "Portland Police is aware that federal law enforcement have deployed CS gas," the police department tweeted.

"Hundreds of people are scattering around the adjacent streets. People are throwing projectiles and are armed with clubs hammers and other weapons. Avoid the area."

Baker tweeted that federal troops had come rushing towards protesters "aggressively."

"Throwing people to the ground, tear gas, firing less-lethals. One ran at me and punched me in the head, knocked me to the ground. I'm ok," he added.

Rallies have been taking place nightly in Portland, Oregon since the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody in May.

The Trump administration has enlisted federal agencies to "quell" the violence and protect federal property in the city, against the wishes of state and local officials.

Reports that some federal officers in unmarked vehicles were forcefully grabbing protesters off streets not near federal property prompted the Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to sue Homeland Security and the Marshals Service in federal court to "immediately stop federal authorities from unlawfully detaining Oregonians."

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Monday night decried the tactics used by federal authorities as "abhorrent" and unconstitutional.

In an appearance on CNN on Monday night, Wheeler said the arrival of federal agents in the city has exacerbated the situation.

"Since they've been here, we've had huge crowds come downtown, we've had more violence… they basically kicked the hornet's nest," Wheeler said.

Referring to video of unidentified federal agents hauling a protester into an unmarked van, Wheeler added: "We didn't ask for these troops in our city, we don't want these troops in our city and the tactics they are using are very un-American and everybody should pay attention to this.

"They're coming into our city, they're in unmarked vans, they pull people off the streets, they don't necessarily have probable cause and they don't actually identify who they are to the people they're pulling into the vans so there's some really serious constitutional issues here."

But President Donald Trump has defended the tactics and threatened to send federal troops to other cities across the U.S.

Speaking at the White House on Monday, Trump specifically named Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland.

"We're sending law enforcement. Portland was totally out of control," he told reporters. "We can't let this happen to the cities. We're not going to let this happen in our country, all run by liberal Democrats."

He added: "We're going to have more federal law enforcement—that, I can tell you. In Portland, they've done a fantastic job. They've been there three days, and they really have done a fantastic job in very short period of time. No problem."

The Department of Homeland Security is planning to deploy around 150 agents to Chicago this week, The Chicago Tribune reported on Monday.

Portland
People protest during a demonstration in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, on July 17, 2020. Ankur Dholakia/AFP via Getty Images